Michael Bronski


A Series Defies Easy Answers to Inquisition’s Questions

By Michael Bronski

When Cardinal Joseph Alois Ratzinger was elected Pope on April 19, 2005, becoming Benedict XVI, his promotion elevated him from his position as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Critics of the archconservative, and highly controversial, cardinal were quick to point out that, since the CDF is the modern moniker for the Holy Office of the Inquisition, Ratzinger essentially spent 24 years as the Roman Catholic church’s grand inquisitor.Read More


From the Yiddish Songbook to the American Canon

By Michael Bronski

There is a shocking, gloriously transcendent moment that occurs nine minutes into “From Shtetl to Swing,” an hour-long documentary about the influence of Yiddish culture on American music. The program is presented October 5 as part of PBS’s “Great Performances.” Until this point in the show, we only have been toldRead More


Crossing Into the Director’s Chair

By Michael Bronski

Like Leo Spivak, the character he plays in “King of the Corner,” Peter Riegert is on the road, selling his wares. But unlike the troubled Spivak, who is trapped in a job he increasingly dislikes — running focus groups for home-safety systems — as he undergoes a massive midlife crisis, Riegert is traveling across the country to dozensRead More


He Played the Jew, Perhaps a Little Too Well

By Michael Bronski

There are many reasons to celebrate The Turner Classic Movies restoration of Edward F. Cline’s charming 1925 ethnic comedy “The Rag Man.” Not least, it offers a chance for audiences to finally watch a full-scale, feature-length performance by the famed but mostly forgotten Jewish performer Max Davidson. He was exceedingly popular earlyRead More


Searching for Couches Real and Metaphoric

By Michael Bronski

Furniture, vital in everyday life, hardly ever plays a large role in art. Henry James’s “The Spoils of Poynton” comes to mind, in which the characters’ inner lives are manifested in their dreadful fight over inherited furnishings, as do stories by Anzia Yezierska, in which the meager possessions of immigrant Jews on the Lower East SideRead More



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